Dear Students in Parkland and across the U.S.,
Thank you for your bravery, your bluntness, your articulateness, and your willingness to stand up for the lives of all kids in this country. I’m an author of young adult historical fiction whose main goal has been to show readers that young people have been enduring and overcoming the horrors of the world since the beginning of time. I write about teens rising from the ashes and fighting to make the world a better place. I strive to convey a sense of hope for future generations. On February 14, 2018, the tables were turned, and I found myself comforted and inspired by YOU, courageous teens, when I saw the immediate reactions of the survivors at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. I witnessed modern-day young people rising from the ashes just moments after tragedy and proclaiming, “Enough is enough!” And I realized, with much shame, that I hadn’t been doing as much as I could to fight for vital gun regulations.
This burden of fighting for your own lives should never have fallen on your shoulders. U.S. schools should never have turned into a place where, for nearly two decades, kids have been forced to fear the threat of getting shot in their own classrooms. I have two teenagers myself, and I’ve always struggled to find the right words to ensure them they can feel safe in their schools. Your response to this latest shooting provided the words for me. Schools will become safe when students and parents stand up together and say, “We can’t take this anymore!” We adults must do EVERYTHING in our power to fight for our children’s lives. Teens, please continue speaking up and demanding your right to attend school without the fear of death, even when voices of opposition threaten to drown you out. The very week you turn 18, please register to vote, and head to the polls as soon as you’re able. Please take care of yourselves in this fight and know I’m behind you 100%, contacting my representatives, casting my votes at the ballots, and joining organizations like Moms Demand Action and Everytown for Gun Safety.
Cat Winters, Author